Michael Crawford

How Gay is This?

Filed By Michael Crawford | December 29, 2007 11:22 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media
Tags: American Gladiators, sports, television

I cannot be the only gay excited about the new American Gladiators. Its sure to be the most camp show on network television. Check out the costumes, the sets, the hysterically macho names for both men and women. The men on the show are way too muscular for my tastes, but the women make this little gay boy swoon.

Raise you hand if you watched the original show in the back in the '80s!

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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 29, 2007 11:53 AM

Some may see this as a sign of the apocalypse. I think its hysterically funny.

I watched the original growing up. Wish they would bring Ninja Warrior to American audiences but I'll take this in the meantime. ;)

I could do without Hulk Hogan, personally.

Hmm, it reminds me of the school cafeteria at my high school back in the Bronx! (lol)

Gay? Not really. It's kind of the same thing as the Ultimate Fighting post - too violent to be gay for me.

But I have to admit I watched the old show and enjoyed it. I liked it because unlike UFC they don't beat each other bloody. They smacked each other with giant Q-tips and played dodgeball with cannons.

Ninja Warrior does play here in the US. It's the original translated. If you're saying you'd like to see an American version - I'm totally with you. I'd love to watch hot guys doing all that gymnastics, jumping and rolling around in mud and water. That would be the gayest TV show ever.

Michael, I TOTALLY watched this show in the 80's. I think the spandex is TOTALLY gay. And you know I'm all about hawt chicks chicks getting physical. Yeah, buddy.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 31, 2007 11:38 AM


Are you saying that gays can't be aggressive and physical? That its not "gay" to engage in athletic competition against others in sports like wrestling and martial arts?

@7: Agree. Like competitive fighting sports are somehow exclusively "straight" for some reason, or that "gay" is too peaceful to do anything as icky as actually fight. [eyeroll]

What Bil means, I hope, is that the sport is too violent for him, an opinion and belief to which he is completely entitled. What he is not entitled to do, of course, is to map his personal preferences onto his (or anyone's) orientation en masse, as that is exactly the type of thinking we're fighting against, every day.

I think there is a very good arguement to be made that unchallenged masculinity, as worshipped by UFC and similar fighting entertainment, is anti-queer. Not that I really think Bil was talking about that, so you can unroll your eyes.

Actually, Nick, that's exactly what I meant. These guys are all about being butch and manly and hyper-violent. They reek of the "Gonna club my woman over the head and drag her home" type that I always think more "straight" than gay. Gay to me means freedom from "typical" masculinity.

@9: only if "unchallenged masculinity" doesn't include gays, which in my book it certainly does. Or rather, can, since masculinity unchallenged can take different forms, including gay or straight.

Why are so many of these terms being defined, by gays or gay allies, as being exclusive of gay people or homosexuality in general? It's like we're systematically defining ourselves into the role of outsider (or victim), and then making moral judgments upon those concepts or roles for being anti-us.

I thought we were fighting for inclusiveness here, not to define all that exists as separate from us. Many gay people enjoy the UFC for its sport and skill as much as for the muscle and tight pants.

And if Bil wasn't saying that, he did say that the UFC was too violent to be gay, which somehow implies that gays are peaceful, or anti-violent, by nature. Is that a fair reading? If so, it still gets an eyeroll, and then some.

They reek of the "Gonna club my woman over the head and drag her home" type that I always think more "straight" than gay.

@10, which would be nice, if gays were actually free from domestic violence, which we're not. Just because it's a same-sex relationship doesn't mean that it's free from the same flaws and bad decisions and sins of an opposite-sex one.
My point is that there is nothing "gay" or "straight" about being "hyper-violent" (which is a pretty judgmental term for a trained martial artist, but that's another discussion) or even being butch or manly. There's also nothing gay or straight about, going back to the beginning of this, typical masculinity. The object of uncontrolled sexual lust may be a man or a woman, and being a jerk, prone to violence, or out of control (what I assume you are thinking of with your "masculinity" ideas) doesn't have a lot to do with vaginas.

On a personal note, gay to me means "liking men." If we define ourselves as being "other" to something else, then we a) need their existence to define ours and b) reject something as part of that definition, which seems a negative way to write one's place in the world.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 31, 2007 7:02 PM

I think that being gay is partially about being able to define your masculinity in any way that you chose. As a gay man, i don't feel like I have to abide by either a "straight" or "gay" concept of masculinity.

We should not have to fear our attributes that may be considered "typically" masculine any more than we should fear or attributes that may be considered "typically" feminine.

Bil mentioned recently on the site that he was glad that "flamers have taken to YouTube. I personally love both the "sissy" boys and the "he-man" boys.

As a gay man, i don't feel like I have to abide by either a "straight" or "gay" concept of masculinity.

I agree, Michael. Hence my comment about the "sissies" taking to YouTube and getting some popularity. They fly directly in the face of the common concepts of masculinity. They define their masculinity themselves.

When I see things like UFC and AG, I always think of the target audience - young, male teens and young adults. While obviously there are some women fans, it's not their target demographic. I don't see "young male gay teens" as a demographic - they don't really care who's watching as long as the money is coming in. But do they market to the gay consumer like they do to the typical masculine market? No. Why?

Because these shows that glorify violence and full contact sport are traditionally male. They lift up as the "champion" the most ideally masculine model - the fit, muscular, strong athlete. This stereotype has stymied women athletes and warriors for centuries and continue to do so in these shows. While I'd say that fit, muscular, strong women athletes can be just as capable and athletic, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks "female" when the topic of UFC comes up.

When Michael asks, "How gay is this?" I am compelled to reply "Not much." Instead, it's hyper-masculine heterosexuality. It's every stereotype of what a "good man" should be - from the Greeks to modern day. As a gay man, I've long been seen differently as being not a good man, but instead a "sissy" - no matter how masculine I may or may not truly be. My very gayness, in the eyes of quite a few Americans (and even more members of the target audience of these shows), emasculates me.

Does it truly? No. In their heads? Yes. But in their heads this isn't about gay men and women beating each other bloody. It's about "sport" and watching men club each other with giant Q-tips. They expect heterosexual men.

And that's not "gay" to me. *shrugs*

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 1, 2008 2:07 PM

Gay men may not be the number one target audience of UFC and AG does not mean that there aren't gay men, young and old, watching. And, who's to say that in marketing to the typical masculine market that gay men aren't being reached? If the marketing is targeting men, then it will reach some men both straight and gay, and miss others who either don't consume the media sources were the marketing is taking place or just has no interested in entertainment like UFC and AG.

If its okay for "sissy" boys to define their own masculinity, why isn't it okay for "he-man" types to define their own masculinity?

I get that some of the ways that we are taught to be boys and men have resulted in some pretty destructive things like spousal abuse, but I don't think that there is something inherently wrong with being masculine. It means that the narrow ways that we have been taught to express our masculinity is the problem.

I, too, have been seen as different for being gay, but I don't see the UFC or AG has somehow being inherently heterosexual. There is a definite homoeroticism to MMA that you don't have to have a degree in queer theory to pick up on. The organizers of the events can add as many women as they like as "ring girls," but the reality is that UFC is all about men relating to, engaging in competition with, training with and supporting other men. That may not be considered "gay" in the stereotypical sense, but it sure ain't "hetero" in the narrow way that its been defined.


It is kind of funny that you mention the Greeks, since it is well known that homosexuality was widely practiced among the citizens, warriors and atheletes of ancient Greece.

For them, women were only good for procreation, whereas for "fun", a male lover was the best.

The Greeks fully appreciated the homoeroticism of competition between men. Their liturature is full of paens about the love of one man for another, though their love of tragedy usually caused the tales to end badly for one or both.